What Inequalities Exist In The Interest Group System In American Politics?

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American Citizens that aspire to have an effect on politics can do so in a number of ways. They include: addressing their concerns to policymakers, voting to affect political results, working individually or with others in social movements, and through informal and formal organizations (Schlozman, Page, Verba and Fiorina 2).

However, participation in politics and the application of political voice is largely determined by social class. Social stratification is a major inequality that occurs in interest groups (Schlozman, Page, Verba and Fiorina 3). Citizens that have high-income levels, high social standings and good education have a greater chance of taking part in political engagements as opposed to the minimally endowed in these respects.

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Class differences that bring about inequalities in the political voice stretch further to gender and ethnicity. When it comes down to gender, women have to work exceptionally hard than their male counterparts in political interest groups. Minority groups that consist of African Americans and other immigrants have very little chance at political participation (Schlozman, Page, Verba and Fiorina 4). Within social inequalities, economic inequalities come to the fore. One must have the financial mettle that enables them to have a high social standing that enables one access to a good education and elitist circles (Schlozman, Page, Verba and Fiorina 8).

What are their effects?
Economic inequalities have a blanket consequence on the economic standing of the United States. If more and more people prosper, there will be more job openings, fewer unemployment levels and social belligerent attitudes towards explicit or perceived inequalities. Economic inequalities stifle macroeconomic growth and political participation. There are plenty of people with great ideas on how the politics of the nation can work to the advantage of the majority. But their voices will never be heard (Bartels, Heclo, Hero and Jacobs 2).

Diminished rates of political participation and the high significance of money in politics carries negative effects for low-income groups. Low- income populations depend largely on the government for financial help and to improve their social standing. In effect, they will support policies that ensure that the government’s assistance gets implemented. According to the American National Election Study of 2008, 17% of the population that was politically inactive relied on government assistance. 2% of the population that was highly participative in political proceedings depended on the government. Among the politically inactive 59% favored universal health care, while 44% of those that were active supported universal healthcare (Demos par 8).

The rapid growth of interest groups jeopardizes the efforts made towards sanctioning policies that address the needs and interests of the general public. The broader public’s interests in legislation have a ripple effect on economic and social opportunities. If the members of interest groups cannot identify with provision of basic needs, they won’t support policies that provide them. The seemingly insignificant things like food, they will not have an incentive to ensure that all citizens can have a decent meal every day. Factors such as affordable healthcare, housing and education will form the least of their worries. Inequalities in interest groups disable the implementation of policies that are meant to benefit the ordinary citizen (Bartels, Heclo, Hero and Jacobs 3).

In what ways can social movements make the system more democratic?
Social movements need the endorsement of highly influential political allies in order to have a meaningful impact on public policy and democracy. These political allies need to be capable of taking up their grievances and concerns in the institutional platforms. Social movements can barely change the way in which politics gets conducted if they do not have a prominent political mediation. The pluralist perception of democracy where political transformation has a bottom-up structure render it to an elitist perspective that is not adequately in touch with democracy from a public perspective. If the incentive for political change and democracy come from the bottom of the social, economic and political class, it must be taken by participants in the social movement from the inside. It enables the translation of these political incentives into policy reforms (Giugni and Passy 2).

In order for the holder of political power to get involved in policy changes, a unified and simultaneous social movement must be present. Additionally, there must also be an agreeable public opinion and either or the participation of a political confederate in the institutional domains. The combination of these three factors increases the chances of policy reformation to happen. According to a study conducted by Tarrow on the effects of the 1968 French University, he highlighted the importance of movement for policy changes. He stipulated that social movements calling for change should adopt the mentioned thought process (Giugni and Passy 5).

The State and party structures have a significant influence on whether or not social mobilization and activities gain approval. Securing approval has a higher chance of accruing benefits for public interests. Where applicable, social movements can push for the type of party and political structures that hold all of their members accountable in whatever capacity they hold political office. It will discourage members of parties from deliberately depressing the social movement activities for individualistic preservation (Giugni and Passy 6).

  • Bartels, M. Larry, Hugh Heclo, Rodney E. Hero and Lawrence R. Jacobs. Inequality and American Governance. Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy American Political Science Association. 2002. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
  • Demos Stacked Deck. How Dominance of Politics by the Affluent and Business Undermines Economic Mobility of Americans.2014. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
  • Giugni, Marco, and Florence Passy. Social Movements and Policy Change: Direct, Mediated, or Joint Effect? Department of Political Science University of Geneva. 2010. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
  • Schlozman, L. Kay, Benjamin I. Page Sidney Verba and Morris Fiorina. Inequalities of Political Voice. Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy American Political Science Association. 2010. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.

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